Sunday 28 August 2011

Don't Mention the Wind

Northwesterly, that's all I am going to say. If you've read my blog before you will know that a northwesterly is a wind that I don't want here on the Fylde coast. I was at Rossall for first light as the tide was just starting to run in. It was a long way out, but that ribbon of blue/grey got larger and larger as the morning went on.

It was quiet this morning and I refer you back to that word 'northwesterly' for the reason. First up were 3 Eiders in the surf and then Oystercatchers began to flock totalling 441. Four Kittiwakes moved west into the wind and out of the Bay, along with 17 Sandwich Terns and 5 Gannets.


The best bird of the morning was a Great Skua that lumbered along the beach just over the surf. I followed it until lost from view the other side of my shelter, which was the Coastguard's tower. After two hours of not seeing very much it was time to head home. I called at the Nature Park on my way and it was similar to yesterday other than there were 9 Little Grebes out on the main pool.

What's it going to be like tomorrow? You've guessed it; northwesterly!

Saturday 27 August 2011

Birds. What birds?

Ian and I had a very slow and predictable ringing session this morning at the Nature Park. I say 'predictable' because based on last evening's forecast we knew it would be grim! I suppose you could ask why bother if you knew it would be poor. I suppose in reality you hope that you might be wrong, or the forecast is wrong and there are some migrants about. The other reason is that when you have been at work all week you are desperate to get out! I shouldn't really grumble as I work in conservation so I get out in the field all the time!

Back to this morning. The forecast was 'bob' on when it talked about it being wet throughout the night with the rain clearing at dawn and the northwesterly wind strengthening. That's exactly what happened, and that's exactly why there were no birds this morning.

We processed 5 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Reed Warbler - 2 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 1
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 1

 Reed Warbler

As you might expect the birding was very quiet too, with just 5 Pied Wagtails, 5 House Martins and 8 Swallows over. On the pools were about a dozen Tufted Ducks and half a dozen Pochards.

 Tufted Duck

Typically it looks set to remain quite breezy throughout the weekend and then dropping, yes you've guessed it, on Tuesday when I am back at work! Let's hope the weather men and ladies get it wrong.

Monday 22 August 2011

'Fresh' Waders for Lunch

I called at the Conder Estuary for my lunch between site visits today to see if I could pick up a few fresh waders. The water levels on the pool were very high and consequently there were few waders. I had two Greenshank, Common Sand and 7 Lapwing.

I then turned my attention to the estuary and this was equally as quiet, although there were some good numbers of Lapwings out on the mudflats of the Lune totalling 1,800. Other than 46 Mute Swans, 66 Mallard and 35 Curlew that was it and it was time for me to head off on my next site visit.

 The Lune Estuary

Sunday 21 August 2011

All's Not Well with Birders and Birding in the Fylde!

The only bit of bird news I have today is of a female/juvenile Marsh Harrier I had from my car as it crossed the road and headed south over Singleton this morning. I got up at 5.15 a.m. and it was p*ssing down so I decided to have a lie in instead. I am not particularly a fair weather birder but the lure of the warm bed I had just rolled out of and the knowledge that based on the weather there wouldn't be too much around, the temptation to get back in was too great.

It would seem that the Yellow Wagtail that Ian and I heard only at the Nature Park yesterday caused a bit of a stir amongst some birders this morning, with at least three people turning up to try and see it. As usual the Webmaster of bird records for Fylde Bird Club lifted this piece of information from my blog without permission, credited the source of the information as Rare Bird Alert (which is code for 'lifted from another website/blog without permission') and plonked it on the 'what's occurring section' of the FBC website. All this did was to mislead local birders who turned up today looking for the Yellow Wag 24 hours after we heard it! What's wrong with birding in the Fylde, or is it the same all over? It was just a Yellow Wag for flips sake! Yes I know they are declining, but put a bit of time in and you can still see several of them in a year; I do!

I could go on and on about this but I won't because it is rather pathetic to say the least. I'll finish by saying that I wish I was off work tomorrow because the forecast is great for a spot of ringing. I'll just have to try and get a bit of birding in between site visits at work tomorrow.

Saturday 20 August 2011

A Dusting of Warblers

Ian and I met at the obs in the half-light this morning and it was too windy to operate mist nets so we relocated to the Nature Park. It was still quite windy here as the tail end of the front that had moved through the night, lifted the wind and dumped some 'wet stuff'on us was just moving away to the east. The wind at first was a good 15 mph WSW, but as the front moved away it dropped to 5-10 mph WSW at first and then swung to SW.

Once the front had cleared it was obvious that it had dropped some birds, as we extracted four birds from the first net, that were all Warblers and four different species! In the end from just two nets we processed 25 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Sedge Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Reed Warbler - 7
Garden Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 2
Blue Tit - 1
Blackcap - 4
Dunnock - 2 (1)
Willow Warbler - 3
Wren - 2
Greenfinch - 1


The weather brought some other good birds in as well as we had a Yellow Wagtail calling from the pool. We put Yellow Wag on the MP3 just in case, but it had no affect. Whilst checking one of the nets Ian heard a Tree Sparrow (a good bird here) and it was moving around a Hawthorn. Again, an MP3 player was switched to 'Tree Sparrow'; we didn't catch the Tree Sparrow, but instead three Tree Sparrows flew out and climbed to the east.

Garden Warbler

During one of our coffee breaks we noticed all the Gulls getting up and low and behold a Buzzard was slowly drifting south with a 'Larus' escort! The fourth decent bird of the morning was when Ian picked up a wader, in the corner of his eye, dropping onto the pool. A quick look on the pool revealed a Ruff as it got up flushed by some Gulls coming in to bathe.

 Lesser Whitethroat

Other birds seen this morning included Swift, Sand Martin, 10 Pied Wagtails, 14 Linnets and a Stock Dove. It looks like we might get out again in the morning, so watch this space.


Thanks to Wendy for the Welsh Dragon sausage butty. Awesome!

Willow Warbler

We received a bunch of recoveries from the BTO this week and they were quite good. Quite a few re-sightings of color ringed Coots, a Reed Bunting to Leighton Moss, a Goldfinch to Walney BO, and a Siskin to Loch Lomond. However, the best of the lot was a Blue Tit that we ringed at the 'obs' on 26.3.11 that was controlled two weeks later 43 km to the south at Hightown, Merseyside!

Sunday 14 August 2011

A Hard Slog

It was too windy for mist nets at the obs this morning so I had a good walk round instead. It was very quiet with nothing going over and very little grounded other than two Wheatears and perhaps a Sedge Warbler. I say perhaps a Sedge Warbler, meaning it might have been grounded or it could have been a late breeding straggler.

As I headed to my seawatching position I took a few photographs of the Sea Holly in flower and then had a look on the sea. I only had a quick a look on the sea and I didn't see anything of note. Walking back towards the car I had 30 Swallows feeding over the meadow and a Lapwing got up from a wet flush.

I then moved onto the cemetery and it was quiet here too. No migrants at all, but a family party of 7 Mistle Thrushes was nice. Back to work for me tomorrow, but I will try and get out in the week.

Saturday 13 August 2011

First Reserve

Ian and I arrived at the 'obs' as it was just coming light this morning to be greeted by a stiff WSW wind. On that direction there wouldn't be a net ride with any shelter so we decided to go to the Nature Park where we knew we would get shelter amongst the willows and the reeds.

We just put three nets up (130 feet) and we processed 12 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Reed Warbler - 5
Dunnock - 1 (2)
Sedge Warbler - 2
Whitethroat - 1
Willow Warbler -2
Greenfinch - 1

Willow Warbler

From a birding perspective we had very little other than a Swift, 10 House Martins and 2 or 3 Ringed Plovers over. The wind forecast for tomorrow is a little borderline at the moment so it will need some careful scrutiny during the day.

Friday 12 August 2011

Pre-weekend Preamble

I must congratulate Fylde Bird Club on their new look bird sightings under 'what's occurring' on their website. They have switched to an automated system where members and non-members alike can instantly upload sightings. This means that the sightings page is kept up to date and it also means less work for the webmaster.

However, (I bet you could tell there was going to be a 'but' or a 'however' coming) it will, and already has lead to some stringy sightings going on the website. Take the 8th August for example; 2 Long Tail Skuas off Rossall Point. Now I am not being pedantic, but if you call them 'Long Tail Skuas' and not Long-tailed Skuas then you don't know what a Long-tailed Skua is! The observer in question is decidedly dodgy and for a couple of weeks now he has asked Ian and I how you  would identify a Long-tailed Skua. He was obviously, as we predicted, preparing himself to claim a Long-tailed or two off Rossall. Unfortunately this gives the site a bad name and people start to disbelieve the validity of any records from the site. The fact that the Long-tailed's claims were juvs is laughable as there is not a chance in a million that this observer could identify a juv. Long-tailed Skua. Ah well, I suppose it will cause a smile and I'll look forward to some more dodgy records as long as they are not on my patch!

Now for some pictures. 'Young' Craig from our ringing group is currently working at Kvismaren Bird Observatory in Sweden and he sent me a couple of pictures of Great Reed Warbler and a couple of Red-backed Shrikes in the hand. They are particularly awesome as you can see below. As Craig said in his email to me "guess what Heather is saying in the Red-backed Shrike photo"? I know what I would be saying and it seems that it is exactly the same!

Bardsey had a Melodious Warbler yesterday, so let's hope if we can get to the 'obs' we can get one too! I doubt it, but it's good to dream!

Saturday 6 August 2011

What Happened To The Rain?

The weather men, weather ladies, Internet forecasts etc all seemed to agree that a front was coming across the Northwest this morning and it would dump a load of rain on us sometime fairly early in the morning. Based on the forecast ringing was off, but I thought there was a chance of a sneaky hours birding before the rain came in. Sneaky hour!, I could have had the whole morning ringing because all we got was a light shower at about 0900!

Anyway, I went up to Rossall as there was a morning tide but it was very quiet. A few waders were on the beach including 111 Oystercatchers, 82 Dunlin, 12 Turnstones, 22 Ringed Plovers, 9 Sanderling and 4 Redshanks. There was next to no vis other than 11 Swallows east and the 20 Linnets knocking about were off passage birds.


The sea was equally quiet with just 25 Sandwich Terns and 12 Common Scoters the rewards for all my efforts.

I decided to call it quits and head home but not before I had a quick look in the cemetery. A Whitethroat in the west hedgerow was probably a local breeder and a male House Sparrow carrying a faecal sack was all I had of interest.

I have just looked at a few Internet forecasts and we might get some ringing done in the morning, although it will be a touch windy. The BBC forecast made me laugh as it contradicted itself within it's own forecast. The three hourly summary for overnight and in to tomorrow showed no rain, yet the predicted rainfall sequence map showed it raining overnight and into tomorrow. I'll leave it a while yet before deciding what to do.

Is That the End of Our Swallow Roost?

Since I last posted Ian and I have had a further two ringing sessions at the Swallow roost ringing another 112 birds. We also controlled a Swallow; Y270857 anybody?

Up until 3rd August there were about 6,000 Swallows roosting, but this dropped to 800 on the 4th and 300 on the 5th. We are not sure whether they will build up again or whether they will switch to maize now that the maize has got a bit of a growth spurt on. We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Updated Totals

I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group in the panel to the right. During July two new species were added and these were Skylark (7 pulli ringed by Phil) and amazingly Song Thrush! How we have managed to get to July without ringing a Song Thrush I am not sure.

The top ten from our totals looks like this:

Tree Sparrow - 344
Siskin - 260
Goldfinch - 200
Swallow - 189 (straight in at number 4)
Chaffinch - 167
Lesser Redpoll - 154
Meadow Pipit - 131
Whitethroat - 115
Blue Tit - 94
Great Tit - 94

I'll need to sign off now as I have to go and ring some Swallows. Ian and I have been working a roost during the week, so I'll report more on that tomorrow.

Tree Sparrow